Jackie Robinson Day is an important day for not only the Dodgers, but the sport of baseball. It’s a day to commemorate the ideals that the late Robinson represented and the impact he had on the entire country when he broke baseball’s color barrier 75 years ago.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts paid homage to Robinson with a pair of custom cleats. Roberts also honored the legend by speaking up for his beliefs. Doc criticized the league’s decision to shorten the draft and in turn, reduce opportunities for African American baseball players to get into professional baseball.
Over the last ten years, MLB has cut the draft from 50 rounds to 20 and has eliminated 43 minor league teams.
The LA Times’ Bill Shaikin provided Doc’s thoughts on the matter.
“When you’re talking about undeveloped, raw, talented African American players, that process takes time. It always has…when the draft is shortened, it just doesn’t give those same guys the opportunities. It also doesn’t give the organizations the opportunity to seek those guys or identify those guys.”
Roberts talked about how, in the past, he would just stick to talking about baseball, but now, he’s willing to make himself “uncomfortable” by publicly discussing the issues that he feels need to be addressed.
Roberts also tries to empower his players to speak their minds and not just be baseball players.
“But it’s bigger than just my job. If Jackie were just a baseball player, I wouldn’t be here today, and the world would look different. And so I encourage our players to speak up and be advocates about the issues they believe in, and I have to follow that.”
One would assume that Doc’s words were not well-received by the league office, but it’s because of people like Robinson that he felt the need to share his beliefs.
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